The Force Awakens is A New Hope all over again.
The Force Awakens is pretty much A New Hope as it shares many of the same plot points and J.J. Abrams was not scared to tap into George Lucas' line of thinking while making the movie. The sequel also pulls many storylines from all of the previous Star Wars movies. Luke destroys a Death Star; Lando destroys a bigger Death Star; Poe destroys the biggest Death Star. Anakin kills (the Jedi's) Younglings; Kylo Ren kills (Luke's) Younglings. Leia, Luke, Han, and Chewie end up in a trash compactor; Captain Phasma ends up in a trash compacter. Poe and Finn steal a ship they're not supposed to steal from a hangar; a young Anakin steals a ship he's not supposed to steal from a hangar. Luke watches Obi-Wan die; Rey watches Han Solo die. The Emperor and Snoke both appear (at first) exclusively via holograms. There's a den of iniquity on Tatooine, and a visually identical one on Takodana. Rey climbs dangerously on the interior of a Death Star (or planet), as did Luke. Han gets shown up (as to military and technical smarts) first by Leia, then many years later by Rey. Obi-Wan disappears where no one can find him but Luke, then Luke disappears where no one can find him but Rey. BB-8 is the new R2D2. Kylo Ren is related to Han, just as Darth Vader was related to Luke. One can go on forever.
The Last Jedi takes risks.
There are certainly some nostalgia and callbacks in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, but it is pulled off in a unique and fresh way. In addition, Johnson pushes the story further and steps out of the safety zone multiple times in the movie, whereas J.J. Abrams spent the whole time in the safety zone, virtually taking zero risks. There's one device Johnson uses to great effect. He masterfully juxtaposes big, loud space sequences and fight scenes with unexpected moments of silence, highlighting emotional, tender moments, which is something that was missing from The Force Awakens. Where you don't want the 150-minute Last Jedi to end, you're pretty much ready to wrap things up on the Starkiller Base.
The Last Jedi stands on its own.
There was a lot of concern that Rian Johnson was simply going to step in and recreate The Empire Strikes Back after J.J. Abrams made The Force Awakens. About the only real similarities between the Last Jedi and Empire are the darker tone and Luke training Rey in the ways of the Jedi. However, The Last Jedi stands on its own and actually seems like the end of the trilogy as opposed to the second installment. Abrams is going to have some big shoes to fill for the direction of Episode IX.
A janitor was able to bring down Starkiller Base.
To destroy the immense Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, all that was needed was a janitor (Finn) with no real special skills to speak of, a few handheld explosives, a couple X-Wing blaster strikes, and some luck. It seems tossed off and almost like it was written on the spot. The Last Jedi has a similar problem, but instead of incompetence, we are treated to Benicio del Toro's DJ character, who is a master hacker and who also has no allegiances to anybody, which throws in a twist on a common Star Wars plot point as well as pushing the story further. Plus, we have the mystery of a brand new character that has sparked interest and a lot of speculation as to if we'll get to see him again.